Ireland and Leinster Rugby centre, Robbie Henshaw, was named as part of Warren Gatland’s 41-man Lions Squad last Wednesday so we sat down with the Athlone native to get his thoughts on being selected to wear the famous red jersey.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed an outstanding season and was widely-expected to be included in the travelling party.
Last November, Henshaw famously scored a try against the All Blacks in Chicago which helped Ireland to claim a first ever win over New Zealand. Now he’ll be hoping to feature for the Lions against the World Cup holders in this summer’s hugely anticipated series.
So how did it feel hearing your name called out?
It was weird, a bit of a surprise. I was the first Leinster player to be called out so that was exciting. Lots of butterflies! It’s a massive honour, I suppose it’s the pinnacle of playing the sport.
Where were you when you found out?
I was actually in Leinster Rugby, we were all in the common room area with the team so we watched it together. It was nerve-wracking to be honest.
I had a call instantly from my Dad. We just had a quick chat and then it was straight back to training so we didn’t have much time to hang around on the phone!
Did you really only find out on the day?
Yeah, I swear! We all found out off the TV, it was crazy.
Have you any personal hopes for the Tour?
Just being included in the squad and being around the guys will hopefully improve me and bring me to the next level.
How would winning with Lions compare to winning the Six Nations or Pro12?
Winning with the Lions would be a step above, it’s huge. It’s the best contingent of players from the four countries so that will be massive, and to go and do it against the All Blacks would be better again.
So have you got a favourite ex-lions player?
There’s been so many to be honest, probably Jonny Wilkinson, I loved watching him when I was a kid. Keith Wood too, I remember him playing and he really was something else.
Who are you looking forward to getting to know while on Tour?
I’ve played against Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson (England) when I was younger, all the way up, so it would be cool to get to know them off the pitch.
Have you any thoughts on your fellow Irish players making the squad?
It’s great to have 11 guys in the squad and to have 5 from Leinster is class. It’s all on the back of hard work for the last few years so it’s great to see the lads get rewarded and I’m really looking forward to going on tour with them.
How do you usually spend your downtime while on Tour?
With Ireland, it’s funny, someone would have a coffee-chart on the wall and we would go out and test the best coffees around the city! Trust me, a lot of coffee is consumed while on Tour! We’d probably do some tourist-y stuff too. Like for instance, in South Africa, we went shark diving in cages, which was probably the best experience I’ve ever had in my life!
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